The Cinque Terre, Italy

Recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, The Cinque Terre are a string of colorful seaside villages that adorn the rugged Italian Riviera coastline. The Sentiero Azzurro cliffside hiking trail links the villages, winding through stepped vineyards and olive groves, offering breathtaking coastal views all the way. You can also visit the Terres by ferry or train (see our tips below), but no matter how you choose to travel, you’ll certainly fall in love with the unique character of each town as you go along.

Must Hike – The Terres

  • Hike the Sentiero Azzurro trail. This scenic trail connects in progression, Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza, and Monterosso. All treks offer incredible views, but we thought the one hour trek from Manarola to Corniglia may have been perhaps the most breathtaking of all, as you climb through stepped vineyards, past centuries-old abandoned wine houses, and in and out of olive groves. (If you have time for only one trek, we’d recommend this one).
  • Make sure to stop on the trail between Vernazza and Monterosso for a chat, and a glass of homemade lemoncielo, from a local farmer who has set up shop behind the fence. (Glasses of his lemoncielo are 2 euro each)
    A few tips- make sure to bring one liter of water with you for each leg of the trek. You can fill up, or buy more water in each of the Terres, so should only need to carry one liter at a time. Also remember your sunscreen!
  • See here for more detailed information on each of the treks, including temporary closures.

Must Know – Getting Around

  • Buy the Cinque Terre card to get around. It will cost 16 euro per day, but worth it as each train trip costs 4 euro. The card also includes access to all the shuttle busses, the entry fee to the Sentiero Azzurro hiking trail (which would cost 7.50 Euro otherwise), and free wifi at all the train stations.
  • By train. The train runs from Le Spezia to Levanto, stopping in each of the Terres. Do make sure to get on the right train, as some run express to Le Spezia and Levanto.
  • By ferry. There is a ferry available between the Terre’s but it’s very crowded. The views from the water of each Terre are beautiful, but for sheer transportation efficiency, we found the train to be better. Daily tickets for the ferry are 22 Euro, and you can get on and off as you please, but one way trips vary in price, so check with the ticket booth (found near the ferry drop locations), for the details.
  • Go to the local information center (found in each Terre by the train station) for more information on getting around, and to buy your Cinque Terre card. They will also provide timetables for the trains, maps for the hiking trails, and information on closures.

Must dine – Riomaggiore

  • Ripa del Sole. This is a local favorite on top of the hill of Riomaggiore. Be adventurous and order the anchovies pie and stuffed mussels. You won’t be disappointed. Insider tip: Ask for Eduardo. He is the best and will take great care to make sure you have a delightful dining experience.
  • Il Grottino. Order the frutas del mar salad with grilled cuddle fish and squid, and the pasta with pesto dish.
  • A Pie’ de Ma’. Go here for sunset. Order the focaccia sandwich with prosciutto and D.O.P buffalo mozzarella cheese.
  • Vertical. This is a very laid back bar that attracts a fun crowd, with a great playlist and good people. It was our favorite spot to go to unwind over a drink or two outside, as we watched the people pass by.

Must imbibe

  • Cinque Terre Beer. The label of this beer is literally, “Cinque Terre Beer” and you’ll see it everywhere. There is one beer for every Terre, so you can choose which one you like best.
  • Birrificio Del Golfo Beer. This is a local brew, made in La Spezia. The Skiara Beer, their summer ale, is nice and refreshing.
  • Local Cinque Terre white wine. It’s light and refreshing, and pairs nicely with any seafood or pasta dish.
  • Sciacchetrà. This is a local fermented wine, served as an aperitif, and a light refreshing treat.

Must Eat

  • Local pesto. Cinque Terre is known for their pesto, which you can find mixed with homemade pasta at most restaurants.
  • Fresh figs. Found everywhere.
  • Fried seafood in a cone. Many small shops sell fried seafood in a conical shaped paper wrapper (similar to how you might receive french fries at a restaurant). You can take these cones to go or eat them on the benches in town.

Must Know

  • To help plan your trip, check out this blog for great tips from a now local, who fell in love with Cinque Terre so much that she ended up moving there!
  • The beaches are mostly rocky.
  • Most places have wifi and we found it to work successfully around 80% of the time.
  • You can’t drive inside the Terres- they are each blocked off and only residents with the proper permits can get through the gates. If you have a car, you can park in Le Spezia or Levanto and take the train into the Terres, or find parking outside of the main gates of each Terre.
  • We found the towns of Vernazzo and Monterosso to be quite crowded. Riomaggiore and Manarola were more relaxed. Corniglia fell in the middle. Monterosso is known to be more stroller friendly as it isn’t as hilly as the rest, and also has more high end resorts available for accommodation.
  • Charming homes are available to rent in the other Terres through AirBnB- we’d recommend staying in Riomaggiore if possible.

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